Monday, January 26, 2015

On Rashida Jones

I enjoy Rashida Jones. She tends towards projects I like, and she can go deadpan stare-to-deadpan stare with the best of the Office alums. I also consider her to be a good Hollywood legacy. As the daughter of Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones, she probably could have stumbled into a job anywhere in Hollywood and “succeeded.” While I’m sure her famous parents helped her get established, but the niche she’s found in quirky comedies is her own.

Compare her to Kelly Osbourne, who has gained a reputation as someone who wears daring fashion and who comments on and/or condemns the daring fashion choices of others. Again, that’s her thing, and while her famous name helped her get there, you can’t really accuse her of getting to that spot solely as a result of her famous dad. However, there’s also that cover of “Papa Don’t Preach” Kelly Osbourne released in 2002. It didn’t kickstart her music career. Pop singer probably wasn’t the best fit for her, and she probably did end up in the recording studio solely as a result of her parents’ influence. To me, that’s an important distinction to make with Hollywood babies: Rashida Jones never had a “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Anyway, I’m happy Rashida Jones is doing what she’s doing, but as a result of her continued success, she creates additional opportunities for dumb people to say, “Oh, I had no idea she was half black!” I have encountered this reaction a number of times in causal conversation, and just today I read a very awkward post about a red carpet reporter complimenting her “tropical” tan. Eep.

So to this reporter and everyone else who is surprised to learn that Rashida Jones is half black, I pose a few questions.

Really? Her name is Rashida Jones. Rashida Jones. If this were a universe where there was not a famous person named Rashida Jones and I said, “I’m getting lunch with my friend, Rashida Jones,” what rational person wouldn’t picture my hypothetical lunchmate being a black woman? Like, in what part of the world would it seem logical that a woman named Rashida Jones wouldn’t be black? It’s like the reverse of that joke on 30 Rock where Michael Sheen, a white Englishman, played a character named Wesley Snipes. (“You know what's insane? That the actor is named Wesley Snipes! If you were shown a picture of him and a picture of me, and were asked who should be named Wesley Snipes, you’d pick the pale Englishman every time! Every time, Liz!”)

Now, I understand that some might respond to that initial line of questioning with something like, “Oh, I wouldn’t assume that someone who has a name that sounds black is necessarily black.” That’s valid. Besides, many of the characters Jones has played have not been black. Two of her more notable roles have been as Italian-American women named Karen — Karen Scarfolli on Freaks and Geeks and Karen Filippelli on The Office. And on Boston Public, she actually had her hair dyed blond, the whitewashing implications of which are pretty awkward. But there’s a second level to this disbelief that a woman named Rashida Jones that usually goes unspoken, and I think it’s this: She was on Parks and Recreation and in hipster comedies like My Idiot Brother and Celeste and Jesse Forever and I Love You, Man, and “Those aren’t black things.” That’s not exactly true, genre-wise — hell, even New Girl has two black main cast members now — but I think it’s worth it for the “Rashida Jones is black?!” crowd to examine why they think it would be so surprising for a black woman to have the career that Rashida Jones has.

Mostly unrelated, race-wise, but I’m bringing it up now anyway: Rashida Jones being the daughter of Peggy “Norma Jennings” Lipton and Zooey Deschanel being the daughter of Mary Jo “Eileen Hayward” Deschanel, wouldn’t it be cool if these two Twin Peaks babies were given something to do in the upcoming series revival?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Skunkening

I’ve had my own troubles with skunks, but my friend recently lived through a Deep, Dark Fear that I have about walking a dog in this part of Los Angeles: a skunk ambush. The skunks rule my neighborhood, you see, but they’ve left me alone so far because I don’t get all up in their glands. Dogs, however, wouldn’t be so polite.

Matilda is Katherine’s dog. She’s is, in fact, not always so polite. You may remember her from a unsuccessful interaction with the fake owl in my backyard.

A video posted by Drew (@kidicarus222) on

Now, however, she looks like this.

The following conversation resulted.

A closing thought: Is it not one of God’s cruelest jokes that one of the floofiest of creatures should also be one of the most impossible to love?

… Referring to skunks here, in case that’s not obvious.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Getting Stood Up: A Timeline

The following was inspired by actual events.

7:49 p.m. — Arrive at the restaurant slightly early. Take a moment to walk around the block just so you can nonchalantly cruise in a few minutes late as if you hadn’t rushed to get there and stressed about being late the entire time.

8:04 p.m. — Enter the restaurant. Give your name. Feel a slight twinge of panic as they look over the reservation list. Expect to be reprimanded for arriving four minutes late. “We saw you walking around the block,” the hostess never says. You are the first to arrive.

8:07 p.m. — Consider for a moment the oddness in the fact that you have not spoken to him (that is, texted with him) since the day before. Ignore it.

8:14 p.m. — “You know, I’m starving. Maybe I will just get an appetizer. And yeah, a glass of the pinot too. No, the pinot noir.” What lunatic would mean pinot gris he says they say “a glass of the pinot”?

8:21 p.m. — Check his Facebook even though you’re not friends with him. You learn that he changed his Facebook banner after Christmas but before New Year’s. This yields no clues.

8:26 p.m. — Fidgeting.

8:27 p.m. — “Sure, I’ll have another.”

8:31 p.m. — Wonder if your cell carrier has failed, possibly as a result of solar flares or a terrorist attack. Send a text message to a friend. It’s a funny dog pic from Tumblr. She replies promptly. Fuck.

8:37 p.m. — Wonder if he may have died in a burning ball of death en route to the restaurant.

8:38 p.m. — Decide you’d rather he died in a burning ball of death.

8:39 p.m. — Feel terrible about yourself.

8:46 p.m. — “Maybe she had car trouble,” says the waitress, trying to be helpful. “Do you want more bread?” she asks. You cannot eat gluten. You have not touched the bread.

8:49 p.m. — Kill everyone in the restaurant with your thoughts.

8:51 p.m. — Stomp through the city causing explosions and assorted other forms of telekinetic mayhem, Carrie White-style.

8:58 p.m. — Transform into a winged demon monster that soars through the sky in search of anyone who has given this man the slightest kindness. Hunt down all in his family line. None survive.

9:28 p.m. — Extinguish all human life.

9:41 p.m. — Extinguish all life on Earth beyond hamsters. Earth belongs to the hamsters now. Hamster planet.

10:22 p.m. — Arrive back at home. Heat up those leftovers you thought you were going to have tomorrow night. Hey, it’s pretty quiet now, at least.

5:45 p.m., two days later

The circus of horrors that is my life, previously:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Boops boops in a Bucket

Way back when, I made the mistake of listing off all the species I could think of whose genus names are the same as their species names. In short, their scientific name is the same word repeated: Bison bison, Chinchilla chinchilla, Iguana iguana, as well as the more exotic-sounding ones such as Bubo bubo (the Eurasian eagle-owl) and Mephitis mephitis (the striped skunk).

I call the post a mistake because it’s subsequently only given some people the opportunity to point out how I’m an idiot for omitting their favorite same-name scientific creatures. Among those I skipped were Gulo gulo — the common wolverine, which I’ve just found out is called “skunk bear” in some circles — and the sea snail Volva volva volva, which, yes, is named for exactly the reason that you’d guess. But just before the end of 2014, another double-namer was brought to my attention that seemed worthy enough for its own post.

This is that post. (And unlike some, this person pointed it out nicely.)

Yep, Boops boops, a big-eyed little fish otherwise known as the bogue. Technically, that name is pronounced “BOH-ops BOH-ops” — literally “cow eye, cow eye” — but why not better the world and just refer to this guy as “BOOPS BOOPS”? The Wikipedia page for the species even has a perfectly reasonable, scientifically accurate caption that nonetheless sounds like it the chorus of some old-timey children’s rhyme.

All hail Boops boops, your new favorite intersex Atlantic demersal and semi-pelagic feeding fish!

And if I still haven’t mentioned your favorite double-named species, please notify me without calling me an idiot.

[Touches own nose. “Boops boops!” Touches own nose. “Boops boops!”]

Amminall fun, previously:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Slowly Learning That Life Is Okay

I've said before that I like weird European 80s music because it sounds a lot like the 80s music that got popular here in the U.S., only it's not “Take on Me” for the one-thousandth time. Today, however, I’m presenting “Take on Me” for the one-thousandth time, but in a form you may have never heard before.

It's the original mix, by which I mean the less successful mix. The song was remade twice before the familiar version finally landed. But this isn't even the oldest, most “red universe” take on “Take on Me.” There’s also this little thing from 1981 called “The Juicy Fruit Song,” by a A-ha prototype Bridges.

And now you truly never need to listen to “Take on Me” again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Twenty-Five Rules for Living With Drew Mackie

This week, I’m getting a roommate for the first time in four years. I’m a little worried about sharing my living space with someone after having had so much time to develop my own routine, so I decided to send my new roommate a “heads-up” list of “suggestions” to make sure it all goes smoothly.

Below is what I thought was most important.
  1. Vegetables go on the refrigerator shelf. The crisper drawer is for condiments and other things that do not go bad. This is inherently better than using the crisper for vegetables, because everyone forgets what’s in the crisper and it becomes decidedly non-crisp.
  2. The green pillow goes on the brown couch. The brown pillows go on the green couch.
  3. Do not attempt to befriend the neighborhood cats. They cannot be trusted.
  4. When I am playing music, please don’t hear it. It is my music that I bought with my me-money.
  5. When I’m singing, please harmonize to make me sound better.
  6. In general, just try to mirror my moods as often as possible.
  7. I have not yet obtained a dog, but I have purchased a dog bed and dog toys in preparation for said dog. As you will be the closest I have to a dog, please skew the bed and scatter the toys around the room periodically to create the illusion of a dog.
  8. The living room wall immediately facing the front door is not, in fact a slightly different color than the other three walls. Please do not ever insist otherwise. My living room is pretty.
  9. There is a pickle jar wrapped in brown package paper in the back of the refrigerator. Never open it. Never question me about the jar.
  10. If you ever hear farting, it’s you who farted.
  11. If you ever hear crying at night, it’s ghosts.
  12. If you ever see a bag of potato chips that’s unopened and then, like, an hour later the entire full-sized bag is empty and stuffed in the bottom of the kitchen garbage can, it’s aliens.
  13. If you are wondering where those tiny little sneezes are coming from, I would actually like your input on this matter because I keep hearing them during random quiet moments in the afternoon and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S MAKING THEM. Isn’t that weird?
  14. I have programmed the DVR to always have the four most recent episodes of The Golden Girls ready for me. I watch them daily. I cannot begin to explain to you how bad it will be for everyone if you were to delete these before I watch them.
  15. Conversely, no, I don’t know who keeps DVRing Bones but maybe don’t delete them anyway and also don’t ask me about how weird it is that the DVR just randomly chooses to DVR new episodes of Bones.
  16. If you watch channel 333 at 3:33 in the morning on a Sunday, a little girl will appear and ask you to solve her murder. She suuuuuucks. Just ignore her and she fades away usually.
  17. The floor is always lava. You cannot ever touch the floor. THE FLOOR IS ALWAYS LAVA. (This does not apply to me.)
  18. I have grown accustomed to using the bathroom with the door open, but I’m still shy. Therefore, when I’m using the bathroom, please wait outside until I deem the premises to be ready.
  19. If one of my friends comes over, we’re married.
  20. If one of my family members comes over, you’re a day laborer who I haven’t yet driven back to Home Depot.
  21. If someone comes to the door asking for Amelia, you are Amelia, but only interact with this guy through the peephole.
  22. Don’t ever point out how there’s no glass in my peephole and that there is therefore nothing to protect my eye from whatever is waiting on the other side of it, because then I won’t leave my bedroom for a while.
  23. I’m totally fine with you wearing shoes in the house. I’m not one of those uptight freaks.
  24. Clean your shoes twice a day.
  25. Next month, I’m having the bathtub taken out and being replaced with an adult human-scale “kitchen sink” fixture, complete with proportionally large mock-ups of a dish soap bottle and kitchen utensils. I’m not one of those uptight freaks who likes to be treated like an adult baby. I just prefer to bathe like one. No, that isn’t weird.
Should be cool, I think. I mean, I feel comfortable pretty much anywhere in the house.

Monday, January 5, 2015

“Oh, My Geraniums!”

The words comprising the title of this post were the first I spoke in 2015.

The guy who lives in my neighbor’s back house heard me and asked what I’d actually said. “Oh, nothing,” or something to that effect. I was wearing a bathrobe and slippers, and while I’m comfortable heading into the backyard in these clothes, I’d like to believe that I’m invisible back there. Me, from behind the cinder block wall: “Happy New Year, though.”

I’m hoping it’s not an omen. However, it must be said that I never thought I’d care as much about geraniums as I do today.

When I moved to this part of Los Angeles, I was told that my neighborhood was an especially good place for gardeners because it didn’t suffer from frosts. This was a lie. If the temperature drops low enough, like it has repeatedly in the last week, it frosts just as easily as it does anywhere else in the world. The plants ice over as if they had been locked in a freezer overnight, and when the morning sun hits them, they melt like your mom at at Tom Skerritt film festival.

The Great Frost of December 31, 2014, burned the geraniums I had planted, and while this news hadn’t ruined my year, exactly, it did help underscore some changes that had occurred. I spent the last four years living in apartments, where my only me-space was limited to a few walls. I sat inside them and typed away at a computer. Now, I have an outside I can call my own. I’ve grown plants — squash and salad greens and tomatoes and herbs — and spent up to eight hours at a time out under the sun, feet on the dirt, my eyes away from screens. I’ve come to use tiered battle plans in my war against fuzzy mildew, purple nutsedge and cabbage white caterpillars, and there have been days when I can discuss nothing but. Regardless, it all makes me happy. I have time to have thoughts. Yet it somehow didn’t give me any great thoughts that led to writing, hence the fact that I posted here less in 2014 than I did any other year since I began blogging in 2003.

I don’t know what this means. I’ve spent the past fourteen years writing for a living, writing for a release, writing to figure out how I feel about the state of things. But in the past six months, even though I’ve had more than enough time to commit words to “paper,” I largely haven’t. More than usual, I feel provoked by this stupid time of year where the days finally start getting longer and you’re meant to consider beginnings and endings. I have to wonder: What the hell will actually make me happy in 2015?

A notable counter to all this: I did technically grow corn in 2014. No, this is a lie. I put a birdseed mix in my bird feeder that included corn, and the birds scattered the corn, and one of the corn kernels happened to land in a garden box where it grew into a plant. Regardless, this was a genuine Almanzo Wilder moment for me. Or at least it was until I unsheathed the ears and found that they looked nothing like the Brentwood gold I’d seen in my state’s finer supermarkets.

herpes corn

No, it looked like a herpetic schlong you might see in a old school guide to VD. So if we’re thinking of reasons to stick with writing…

The backyard beat, previously: